Scientific Name:
Microsorum scandens (G.Forst.) Tindale, Amer. Fern J. 50: 241 (1960) – as Microsorium scandens
  • Polypodium scandens G.Forst., Fl. Ins. Austr. 81 (1786)
  • Phymatodes scandens (G.Forst.) C.Presl, Tent. Pterid. 196 (1836)
  • Drynaria scandens (G.Forst.) Fée, Mém. Foug., 5. Gen. Filic. 271 (1852)
  • Phymatosorus scandens (G.Forst.) Pic.Serm., Webbia 28: 459 (1973)
  • Dendroconche scandens (G.Forst.) Testo, Sundue, & A.R.Field, Syst. Bot. 44: 12 (2019)
Lectotype (selected by Tindale 1961): G. Forster, BM 000066255!, labelled Society Islands but probably from New Zealand.
From the Latin scandens (climbing), referring to the habit.
Vernacular Name(s):
fragrant fern; mokimoki

Epiphytic and terrestrial; creeping or climbing fern.  Rhizomes long-creeping, 2–4 mm diameter, wiry, scaly.  Rhizome scales clathrate, narrowly triangular in the upper part but abruptly widened to a broadly ovate base, 3–6 mm long, 0.5–2 mm wide (at base), squarrose, blackish-brown, entire.  Fronds 45–620 mm long.  Stipes 5–120 mm long, pale brown, glabrous or with scattered scales.  Laminae very varied, from undivided or variously lobed to deeply 1-pinnatifid; undivided laminae narrowly ovate to narrowly elliptic or linear, 40–430 mm long, 3–25 mm wide; lobed or pinnatifid laminae narrowly ovate to narrowly elliptic or occasionally ovate to elliptic, 110–540 mm long, 25–190 mm wide; lamina extending 10–160 mm below the lowest lobe, dull dark green, herbaceous, glabrous or with scattered scales along the costae.  Lamina lobes in 1–20 pairs, 15–105 mm long, 3–11 mm wide, straight or slightly falcate, acuminate, margins entire or wavy, widest at base.  Veins reticulate, forming 1–2 series of areoles between costa and lobe margin; hydathodes usually inconspicuous on adaxial surface of lamina.  Sori round or slightly elongate, 1–3 mm long, superficial or impressed into lamina forming low bulges on adaxial surface, in 1 row close to lobe margin on either side of the costa; paraphyses absent; exindusiate.


This species can be distinguished from the other species of Microsorum in New Zealand by its thin (< 4 mm diameter) wiry rhizome with small squarrose blackish-brown scales, thinner dull green laminae, occasional scales along the rachis and costae, and generally smaller sori.  It also has a musky scent when fresh, as reflected in its common name.

Occasional aberrant forms are found – either crested at the apices or with bifid laminae.


North Island: Northland, Auckland, Volcanic Plateau, Gisborne, Taranaki, Southern North Island.

South Island: Western Nelson, Sounds-Nelson, Westland, Canterbury.

Chatham Islands.

Altitudinal range: 0–800 m.

Common from near sea level in coastal and lowland areas of the North Island, extending locally to 800 m in montane forest, but absent from high country areas in Taranaki, Volcanic Plateau and Gisborne.  In the South Island, largely confined to coastal areas of the Marlborough Sounds, Nelson and Westland, extending locally to 500 m and as far south as Haast.  Absent from most of the east coast except for an outlying population on Banks Peninsula.

Also Australia (Queensland, NSW, Victoria), Lord Howe Island.


Creeping on the ground, over rocks or on banks, climbing trees, or epiphytic.  Common in a wide range of coastal and lowland scrub and forest, usually in damper habitats.

Indigenous (Non-endemic)

This fern has been widely misidentified by earlier New Zealand authors as Polypodium pustulatum, Phymatodes pustulata or Microsorium pustulatum (see Brownsey et al. 1985).

Bostock, P.D.; Spokes, T.M. 1998: Polypodiaceae. In: Flora of Australia. Vol. 48. 468–495.
Brownlie, G. 1958: Chromosome numbers in New Zealand ferns. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 85: 213–216. [as Microsorum pustulatum sensu Brownlie]
Brownsey, P.J.; Given, D.R.; Lovis, J.D. 1985: A revised classification of New Zealand pteridophytes with a synonymic checklist of species. New Zealand Journal of Botany 23(3): 431–489.
Brownsey, P.J.; Perrie, L.R. 2015: Polypodiaceae (excluding Notogrammitis). In: Breitwieser, I; Heenan, P.B.; Wilton, A.D. (ed.) Flora of New Zealand — Ferns and Lycophytes. Fascicle 1. Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln.
Brownsey, P.J.; Smith-Dodsworth, J.C. 2000: New Zealand ferns and allied plants. Edition 2. David Bateman, Auckland.
Crookes, M.W. 1963: New Zealand Ferns, ed. 6. Incorporating illustrations and original work by H.B. Dobbie. Whitcombe & Tombs, Christchurch.
de Lange, P.J.; Rolfe, J.R.; Barkla J.W.; Courtney, S.P.; Champion, P.D.; Perrie, L.R.; Beadel, S.N.; Ford, K.A.; Breitwieser, I.; Schönberger, I.; Hindmarsh-Walls, R.; Heenan, P.B.; Ladley, K. 2018: Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2017. New Zealand Threat Classification Series No. 22. [Not Threatened]
de Lange, P.J.; Rolfe, J.R.; Champion, P.D.; Courtney, S.P.; Heenan, P.B.; Barkla, J.W.; Cameron, E.K.; Norton, D.A.; Hitchmough, R.A. 2013: Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 3. Department of Conservation, Wellington. [Not Threatened]
Fée, A.L.A. 1852: Mémoires sur les familles des fougères. 5. Genera Filicum. Baillière, Paris.
Forster, J.G.A. 1786: Florulae Insularum Australium Prodromus. Dietrich, Göttingen.
Large, M.F.; Braggins, J.E. 1991: Spore atlas of New Zealand ferns and fern allies. SIR Publishing, Wellington.
Pichi Sermolli, R.E.G. 1951: Notes on some Australian ferns. Webbia 8: 201–223. [as Phymatodes scandens (G.Forst.) C.Presl; Polypodium scandens G.Forst.]
Pichi Sermolli, R.E.G. 1973: Fragmenta Pteridologiae IV. Webbia 28: 445–477.
Presl, C.B. 1836: Tentamen Pteridographiae. Haase, Prague.
Testo, W.L.; Field, A.R.; Sessa, E.B.; Sundue, M. 2019: Phylogenetic and morphological analyses support the resurrection of Dendroconche and the recognition of two new genera in Polypodiaceae subfamily Microsoroideae. Systematic Botany 44(4): 1–16.
Tindale, M.D. 1960: Vein patterns in Microsorium scandens and its allies. American Fern Journal 50: 241–245.
Tindale, M.D. 1961: Polypodiaceae. Contributions from the New South Wales Herbarium, Flora Series 210: 24–46.